Swiss Post is saying goodbye to the green form – almost
Online and in advance, instead of by hand: that’s how customers will declare the content and value of any consignments containing goods that they send abroad in future. From April, the international rule will also apply at Swiss Post’s branches with partners. This means the long-serving green customs form will finally become a thing of the past – with one exception.
The transition period is now over, and the international rule applies universally. Swiss Post will also stop using the green customs form at its branches with partners at the end of March. In other words: if you want to send a letter containing chocolate to your grandchildren at an international address, you need to register the contents and value online, instead of by hand. This can be done via Swiss Post’s online services – on your own PC or with a mobile device. What about people who can’t or don’t want to do it this way? The staff at Swiss Post’s branches will be happy to assist. So why the change? Seven quick-fire questions and answers.
1. Why can’t customers register the content and value of international consignments by hand on the green customs form anymore?
Because this is what the Universal Postal Union has decided. The new rules apply to all postal organizations worldwide. For parcels and letters containing goods that need to be sent from Switzerland to another country, this means it is mandatory to register the sender, recipient, contents and value of the consignment online and send the information to the destination country in advance. This requirement has been in force since early 2020 and has applied to consignments destined for the USA since mid-2019. Swiss Post withdrew the green customs forms from its own branches before the end of the year, but they continued to be used at branches with partners, such as village shops, during a transition period. This is now set to expire.
2. What changes does this mean for customers?
In most cases, nothing will change. A large proportion of international consignments are already being registered online. Swiss residents are exemplary by international comparison. In future, branches with partners will also accept letters and parcels that have been registered online and prepare them for dispatch, if customers bring the printed customs documents with them. However, branches with partners cannot register and declare consignments online themselves. They do not have the equipment required.
3. It sounds like a lot of work for the sender. What are the benefits?
Sorting, processing and customs procedures are all faster, because the content and value of the goods are sent in advance. This means consignments reach their destination more rapidly. And, thanks to the standardized address labels, tracking is also better.
4. That’s all well and good, but there are still lots of Swiss Post customers who aren’t online!
That’s true. And Swiss Post is right here for everyone. Staff at Swiss Post branches will continue to register and declare international consignments so that customers don’t have to – this service costs three francs. Given the work involved, this surcharge is relatively low. Customers who live in remote areas and do not use digital services are advised to call Swiss Post’s Customer Service. But the fact is that customers are increasingly using online services. Swiss Post also wishes to provide these people with an optimal service, which is why it’s continually upgrading its online solutions.
5. And what happens if I pop some chocolate for my niece who lives abroad into my consignment, don’t declare it beforehand and simply rely on the goodwill of the international postal system gods?
That’s really not a good idea! International transport partners and customs authorities in the destination country can refuse to accept the consignment. The consignment will be returned to the sender or held by customs for a long period. A lot of expense and irritation for nothing.
6. Have the branches with partners been informed about what’s going on?
Swiss Post has provided comprehensive information about its plans and raised awareness amongst its partners once again in recent weeks – by providing checklists and factsheets and by speaking to them. The same applies to counters for business customers, which send the majority of international consignments. Information notices have been displayed, as these counters are not always staffed. The notices emphasize the importance of the electronic advance declaration and the fact that it is mandatory.
7. Is the green customs form going to end up in the archives of Swiss Post history?
There’s still some life in it yet. The green form will remain in use. They’ll be used for document consignments – in other words, letters that contain only documents and no goods. No electronic declaration will be required for these consignments in future, either.
Information: The declaration and customs processes and lots of background information – more facts on electronic advance data can be found at swisspost.ch/ead